As the country teetered on brink of collapse early in 2018 following two General Elections held within three months, the two arch-rivals were sweating over how they would engage each other.
The details of the nerve-racking meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his rival Raila Odinga were revealed by the President himself on Wednesday during the unveiling of the Building Bridges Initiative report.
President Kenyatta, who was addressing the nation at the Bomas of Kenya, said that their encounter was tense and they took nearly an hour to start talking about real issues.
“Hata sisi tulikuwa na hofu. [We spent about 40 minutes on small talk as we sipped tea. We talked about our spouses, family and other non-issues. We didn’t know how or where to begin,” President Kenyatta revealed.
The President said his motivation for the handshake with Raila was to ensure that the country was not divided and that business resumed to normal following the violent elections.
“Our first meeting wasn’t easy. Hofu mliokuwa nayo, hata sisi tulikuwa nayo. Tulipokutana mara ya kwanza tulikunywa chai kama dakika kumi na tano kabla ya kusema lolote [When we first met, we sipped tea for about 15 minutes without talking to each other, without knowing what to say because of the anger that we had built up,” said the Head of State.
It was at that meeting, President Kenyatta revealed, that they agreed to examine not just the 2017 elections but scrutinize the past and solve the historical issues that always rear their ugly heads every election year.
“Now, let us be mature. These 47 million people are capable of electing the leaders they want,” said President Kenyatta, urging leaders to use the BBI report to unite Kenyans.